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Wilby - Interview

  by Cila Warncke

published: 13 / 1 / 2002

Wilby - Interview


Rosie Wilby is unique – not just because she is a renaissance-woman media mogul in the making – but also because she is astonishingly patient and empathetic for a woman who seems to have more ‘hats’

Rosie Wilby is unique – not just because she is a renaissance-woman media mogul in the making – but also because she is astonishingly patient and empathetic for a woman who seems to have more ‘hats’ than Imelda Marcos had shoes. In fact, if Wilby had a business card she’d have to print it on A4 paper: singer, songwriter, web designer, journalist, promoter, columnist, TV presenter, and oh, she’s done some work in radio as well. What is important, though is that Rosie Wilby isn’t one of those people who multiply mediocrity. To the contrary, she is a serious-minded, immensely dedicated, passionate artist, who was willing to spare an hour of her time straining to hear my questions in a crowded tourist bar in Leicester Square. First, though, when we met, she apologized for being difficult to get in touch with. “As you might know, my flat burned down a few weeks ago,” she said matter-of-factly. Nothing much more was said, no dramatics. That’s kind of how Wilby is – she just takes things in stride, and patiently works to make them better. Persistence, to her, is not so much a virtue as a way of life. Only eleven years old when she began writing songs, Wilby characterizes her youth by saying “I kept exploring… the key was writing lyrics and expressing things.” A tall order for an eleven year old – or even a teenager, but she stuck with it, right up to the time she moved to London, about five years ago. “I’d always imagined coming to London… there’s so much going on,” Wilby says, allowing herself a little smile. Taking advantage of all the goings on, Wilby – who was officially on a film and television production training course – joined a band, wrote more songs, worked with voice groups, and began doing a bit of music journalism on the side. “You do feel like you’re juggling things and putting different hats on,” Rosie admits, though with little regret. Perpetual motion appears to energize, rather than enervate, her, and she grows more animated as she talks about the steps towards her first CD Precious Hours. Like most pragmatists, she says she “didn’t think about music as a career… but I realized it was my passion… [even if] you have to do other things to pay the bills.” So leaving her doubts aside, Rosie called in all “favours, and friends” to record her debut album, which was released in July on her own Catflap Recordings label. A sort of, iron hand in velvet glove affair, her first record is a sweetly harmonious affair – with backbone. It is, for Wilby (which is the name she records under, dropping the “Rosie”), a deeply personal affair – much of the funding for the record came from her deceased mother’s bequest, and that loss plays a prominent part in her songs. She also puts her own level-headed spin on affairs of the heart with the first single, “You Were Loved.” Tuneful, and a little poignant, she calls it her “alternative Valentine’s Day [its release date] single… a bit more real than the fairy-tale, bubblegum romance [songs].” Indeed, all the songs seem to be firmly rooted in the realities of Wilby’s life, and in her all-on-the-table honesty. Gratifyingly, and to her obvious relief, the reviews were positive, and, as she puts it “once a CD comes out you look a bit more serious… I’m feeling a sense of momentum.” As if she ever lacked momentum. Because what Wilby is leaving between the lines, downplaying, is the magnitude of her personal effort. Until she recently hired a manager, Wilby was all she had. Sitting there, petite, slight, clad in jeans and a borrowed tee-shirt, you have to believer her when she remarks, “I’m quite good at promoting myself.” Funny thing is, she doesn’t look the part of a slick music PR girl, but she puts herself on the line with such steely charm that you are hard pressed to doubt her at all. She adds that “hopefully [my new manager] will make a difference,” but you suspect that it is more out of courtesy to said manager, than lack of confidence in her own abilities. If nothing else, Rosie Wilby is sure of who she is, and where she wants to go. Sure enough to admit that although she now prefers the Manic Street Preachers, Radiohead and other purveyors of “pretty tunes with dark lyrics,” she used to be “obsessed with George Michael.” Not cool, perhaps, but Wilby is more about honesty, and dedication, than hip-ness. Her secret to success is simple, “look at how serious you are… and make sure you’re working with the right people.” And what she doesn’t add, though she well might, is believe in yourself, and you’ll make everyone else believe too. More information about Rosie Wilby can be found on her website http://www.wilbymusic.freeserve.co.uk. She will also be playing various live dates over the next few months. Her next appearance will be at the "Weekenders" Women's Festival at Kearney's Irish Bar in Bristol on Sunday December 3rd, and she will follow this with a show at Rock and Doris , a monthly gay and lesbian night, in Newcastle on Saturday January 27th. Rosie will also be playing a nine date tour of Britain with support act Rebecca Hollweg in May , dates for which are still yet to be confirmed. She also will be making an appearance on the Tyne Tees regional television programme 'The Lab' at some point in December.

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